Judaism features

A new attempt to solve the who-is-a-Jew crisis

By Simon Rocker, November 20, 2014

It is not every day that diaspora Jews are encouraged by Israelis to intervene in their country's affairs. But a few weeks ago an advertisement in this newspaper urged readers to petition the Israeli government.

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Even the sages had to fight against temptation

By Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, November 13, 2014

'No more heroes anymore," sang the Stranglers in the 70s; their song became an instant hit, tapping into the disillusionment that we feel when our leaders let us down. Sadly, this applies in the Jewish world too. Our latest scandal involves a distinguished American rabbi, who is accused of mistreating potential converts and planting cameras in a mikveh to peek at women as they showered.

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Why we should all have a sabbatical this year

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, November 6, 2014

The current sabbatical year, which began at Rosh Hashanah, represents a remarkable renewal of the possibilities of shmittah, the biblical seven-year agricultural cycle for the Land of Israel.

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Why it's not smart to have a Shabbat phone

By Rabbi Dr Raphael Zarum, October 23, 2014

While thousands celebrate Shabbat UK this weekend, many frum teenagers will be texting their friends on Saturday. "Half-Shabbos", as it's called, is widespread and reflects the reality of how many young observant Jews today balance keeping Shabbat with their constant need to stay in touch via social media.

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Simchat Torah and the limits of science

By Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman, October 14, 2014

Since the dawn of humanity mankind has gazed at the stars in wonder, contemplating our place in the cosmos. As the holiday season draws to a close and the dancing and celebration of Simchat Torah comes to an end, we recommence our routine Shabbat Torah reading with the story of Genesis.

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Succot's happy hours

By Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair, October 7, 2014

Jules Benjamin, a close friend of my father, used to say, "Money doesn't buy you happiness, but I don't mind being miserable in comfort."

We live in interesting times. On the one hand, never in the history of the human race have our lives been physically easier and more comfortable, and on the other, never has emotional dysfunction been so prevalent.

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The awkward questions to ask on Yom Kippur

By Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence, October 2, 2014

As we head into 5775, it's hard to escape the jarring dissonance between the language of our Yomtov prayers and the news coverage of our daily lives. We pray to a God of love and compassion, who shows mercy to the generations of those who are faithful.

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Hannah, the heroine of Rosh Hashanah

By Maureen Kendler, September 23, 2014

The story of Hannah, which we read as the haftarah on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, provides a much- needed moment of inspiration for us to begin a New Year. When we first meet Hannah, at the start of the Book of Samuel, she is a picture of desolation and defeat, due to her infertility.

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The shofar's many voices

By Rabbi David Lister, September 18, 2014

Rosh Hashanah is almost upon us. 5774 has been a difficult year, riven by conflict and cacophonous with lies, half-truths and hostility. Like many others, the Jewish people are desperate to draw a line under the past and make a new start.

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What the shofar's wordless cry tells us

By Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, September 18, 2014

At the heart of the Rosh Hashanah service is a cry with no words. It isn't even a human cry, but the strangely evocative sound made by directing the breath through the hollowed-out horn of a ram. Scripture provides no reason for blowing the shofar on the New Year; it doesn't even name it as the instrument to be used on what it tersely describes as Yom Teruah, "a day of sounding the horn".

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